North, South Korea to meet for talks Tuesday

Ribbons bearing messages wishing for unification between the two Koreas hang on a barbed-wire fence near the militarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, December 21, 2017. On Monday, he offered to discuss with South Korea the need for a peaceful winter Olympic atmosphere on the Korean peninsula.

North and South Korea yesterday reopened a cross-border hotline that had been shut down since 2016, forging ahead with peace overtures despite taunts from US President Donald Trump, who said he has a "much bigger" nuclear button than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. They said they were awaiting a possible second call from the North, which may pave the way for official talks in the coming days.

The communication channel is set to be restored at the border village of Panmunjom later on Wednesday according to the North's state-run radio station.

Analysts with the website 38 North, which tracks North Korea, reported Pyongyang may be preparing to test a rocket engine at a facility in Sohae, North Pyongan province, where all of the North's satellite launches have taken place since 2012. In this context, any diplomatic progress may come as a relief, but Kim's motives remain unclear.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been in favour of better ties with North Korea for years, campaigning on a pledge to take a softer line than his conservative predecessors.

US Department of State spokesman Heather Nauert also said that Kim "may be trying to drive a wedge of some sort between the two nations - between our nation and [South Korea]". While Kim's strategy poses risks created to pressure Moon and open up a breach in the U.S. -ROK alliance, who can blame Moon for trying to find ways to avert Kim from his longer-term trajectory of conflict with the United States? That might also play into the North's narrative that its nuclear weapons are a necessary defense against US aggression.

More news: MPs call for 25p tax on disposable coffee cups

USA officials said they're extremely skeptical of Kim's overtures, and will not allow him to sour the U.S.

South Korea's defense authorities said Thursday there has been no indication of an imminent missile test by North Korea, responding to US news reports that the secretive nation appears to be preparing to fire another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"And I truly do believe that making it clear that all options are on the table; that, as the president has done, making it clear the United States of America has the capacity to defend our people far beyond anything North Korea could imagine; but also making it clear that if North Korea will abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, if they will dismantle those programs, there's an opportunity for a peaceable solution", he said.

Still, some suggested that reestablishing contact between the two Koreas is a step in the right direction, for all involved.

"If the South becomes the North's dialogue partner, the US-South Korea alliance will face difficulties", he said.

It does seem more promising than trying to top whatever insane thing Kim says, in 240 characters or less.

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